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4A Games' highly praised and popular first-person, post-apocalyptic, Russian shooter Metro 2033 hasn't been in the news recently... until now. The reason it's in the news? Because an elderly woman has been accused of pirating the first-person shooter.
According to the CBC, 86-year-old Christine McMillan from Ontario, Canada was asked to pay up to $5,000 for illegally downloading the 2010 first-person shooter, Metro 2033. McMillan had never heard of the game and was confused when a private firm representing copyright holders called CANIPRE sent her the notice, saying she would either have to pay a settlement fee or get sued for $5,000 for copyright infringement.
CANIPRE represents various copyright holders and stands for Canadian Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement. According to the company, they've managed to accrue $500,00 over the course of two years from sending out copyright infringement notices to ISPs, who in turn send them to users who are allegedly in violation of copyright infringement.
The story doesn't explain how or why McMillan was specifically targeted if she didn't actually play Metro 2033, but the article speculates that someone may have used her Wi-Fi setup to download the game through torrents or some other site that had hosted the game illegally.
CANIPRE explained to CBC that they get about 400 calls and e-mails a day from people, many of whom would rather settle than risk getting taken to court and sued for $5,000.
In the comment section of the article, users mention that the statutory non-commercial copyright infringement maximum in Canada is $5,000. According to Tech Dirt, it's true that Canada capped the statutes of copyright infringement back in 2012. This move was part of Canada's way of curbing corporations from suing private citizens for an absurd amount of money, since they lifted the law to allow copyright holders open lawsuits against citizens over file sharing.
The users in the CBC comment section called the move from IP holders a "mafia" tactic based on bullying people into paying up based on fear, but that none of them have actually successfully sued civilians for downloading illegal material.
According to the CBC article, CANIPRE and other companies have never actually taken these cases to court, thus corroborating what the users in the comment section have stated. They also don't say exactly how much these "settlements" actually are. So while Metro 2033 currently retails for less than $20, there's really no telling how much CANIPRE is asking for users like McMillan to pay until she agrees to the settlement.
CBC even notes that for the few piracy cases that did go to court none of them required the person to pay the $5,000 maximum. In McMillan's case, she plans on not paying the settlement and hopes that the situation goes away. It would also be pretty difficult for CANIPRE to convince a court that an 86-year-old illegally downloaded a first-person shooter like Metro 2033 when she didn't even know the game existed. They would also have to prove that her computer was even capable of running the game (assuming it wasn't an ISO of the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions of the game), otherwise it would be impossible to establish motive for a non-gamer to download a game they don't play on a computer that may not even be able to run it.
Cases like this, however, have a lot of people calling for reform because they feel these private companies, like CANIPRE, are doing little more than working as hired muscle for copyright holders to fleece consumers, whether they're guilty or not. The CBC is reporting that the statutes surrounding copyright laws and enforcement will be reviewed in 2017.